In the wilds, or the zoo, one should never settle

“Children are smarter than any of us. Know how I know that? I don’t know one child with a full-time job and children.” – Bill Hicks

Kiddo was on spring break and was spending the working hours with my mom. “I was thinking about taking the boys to the zoo. LT too,” my mom offered. “You are welcome to join us.” Kiddo has been to the zoo before, but LT hadn’t, and considering his 4-year-old/life-long obsession with monkeys (really, any simian), I couldn’t help but imagine the expression on his face when he saw the living creatures. I knew I had to come along.

That morning, there was a slight chill in the air, but the skies were clear and blue. Well, at least mostly blue. Occasionally clouds of yellow-green-death dust could be seen billowing down from the trees (we really have six seasons: Summer, Fall, Summer’s Revenge, Winter, Spring, and Pollen), but otherwise it was a good day to be outside.

“Are we going to see monkeys, mommy?” LT asked just before I loaded my offspring into the car.

“I am pretty sure we will.” Two hours later we only had ten miles left to go when traffic came to a stop. I am not quite sure what happened as the roads were clear, perhaps the pollen had taken another victim, in any event, a car had taken a detour into a ditch. We stopped and started and stopped again. The meeting with monkeys would have to wait.

Somehow we made it to the final turn lane before the zoo’s entrance, but we weren’t alone. Apparently, we weren’t the only one to decide that a day trip was in order. Cars filled the parking lot and a line of other families crammed together on a narrow bridge way that fed into the ticketing lanes. I plopped LT into a stroller and did my best to navigate through the masses. It was slow going. It’s going to be worth it though, I thought to myself.

Eventually, we made it through the crowd and into the park. And then there were animals. Graceful giraffes grazed as zebras sunned themselves on a hillside next to a small water feature. They weren’t monkeys, but I thought they’d do. My youngest would be impressed all the same. Here it is, the big moment. It’s going to be worth it. I escorted LT up as close to the creatures as possible. He stood, pulling himself up on the wall as high as his arms would allow.

“What do you think?”

“I see . . . I see . . . I see A WATERFALL!” He pointed. Sure enough, a trickle of water poured down the hill into the water feature, but it wasn’t exactly Niagara falls.

“Yes, honey, I see a waterfall too, but what do you think of the animals?”

“WATERFALL!” (Have I mentioned he is also obsessed with waterfalls?)

My mom, overhearing this last remark, joked that perhaps instead of the zoo we should have planned a trip to Iceland instead.

dang.

“The children of the revolution are always ungrateful, and the revolution must be grateful that it is so.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

I loaded LT back into the stroller and made our way to the next exhibit – again, not monkeys. I leaned down and once again asked, “what do you think?”

“Where is the waterfall?”

Sigh…

Finally after walking what felt like miles, we found ourselves on the last stretch of path to the chimpanzee enclosure. Crowds of people surrounded us. I ditched the stroller and carried LT the rest of the way. The glass was blocked by children and parents alike. Then one family looked back and pulled their children to the side so that LT could squeeze in between them. There walked not one, but several chimpanzees.

One of the younger chimps, ignoring the crowd, decided to roll down the hill on its side. LT wasn’t the only child in the crowd to squeal with delight. Another chimp climbed into a hammock.

“Mommy . . . Mommy . . .” LT shook in excitement as he tried force the words through an ear to ear grin. “MONKEYS!”

One day, I’ll explain the difference between a monkey and a chimpanzee, but I decided to save that argument for another day. It was finally here. It was the big moment and it was even better than I imagined. To think I’d been prepared to accept something less just because it was easier.

“Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen.” – Horace Mann

LT hadn’t settled, nor had he let me, and as a result, we both achieved our goal for the day.

May tomorrow be just as successful.

quotes courtesy of http://www.brainyquote.com

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33 thoughts on “In the wilds, or the zoo, one should never settle

  1. I’m reading this post from the vantage point of a parent with older children and I’m thinking two things: 1. I don’t miss diapers, and 2. I don’t miss strollers, which always confounded me with their assembly and disassembly, and how they would never fit into whatever space I needed them to get into.

    I’m also thinking that as parents, what we want/expect (monkeys!) our kids to get out of an experience is not necessarily what they get out of it (waterfalls!) and that can be frustrating for us, unless we realize waterfalls are pretty wonderful, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are wise.

      I suppose the waterfalls were wonderful too. Worth the drive and the crowd? I wouldn’t think so, but your your point, LT disagrees and that is worth remembering too.

      I don’t miss diapers either.

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  2. And I wish I could edit my own comments on other blogs: I meant to say that when I start to get nostalgic about when my kids were little and we used to make these sorts of day trips, I need to remind myself that there were diapers then. And now, reading this post, I remember the nightmare of strollers, also. Not saying your kids are in diapers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are so many times I wish I could edit mine too. I really shouldn’t comment before coffee. In this case, the stroller may have saved LT’s life or my sanity as at least I knew where he was at all times. Unlike his brother who kept wanting to run off in search of lions.

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  3. First visits to the zoo are often seminal experiences. I can still recall seeing a bison in the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, and being traumatized by its battering of the solid steel door to its pen. The sound it made striking the metal remains with me to this very day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That would make an impression. Luckily for us, the NC Zoo, as you probably know, has those great big expanses of land so the animals have a little more room to roam.

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  4. I love the sign on the lion exhibit. I was vacationing this past week at a child friendly resort and I loved the sign they had in the window of the play room there: “Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten.” Such a simple thing, but it made me smile every time I walked by.

    Glad you had a great day at the zoo.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As a kid, I was enamored with monkeys, too. I devoured the Curious George books and, when I was older, King Kong stole my heart. I went apeshit over the Barrel of Monkeys game too, come to think of it. There’s just something about simians that strikes a chord with young boys, I suppose!

    We are also dealing with massive pollen out here, too. It’s worse than I ever remember seeing. But a sure sign that Spring has sprung!

    Liked by 1 person

    • He got his first barrel of monkeys set for his birthday this year and sleeps with a stuffed curious George among at least 10 other monkeys. We may save King Kong for a later date though. It would probably only give him ideas.

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